Liver Spread (Pâté) a la Pinoy

To satisfy a craving for pure (and I mean “pure”) liver spread, I set aside about less than a quarter of a kilo of the liver we bought for chicken adobo. I requested my hubby to fry the liver, not really knowing how to prepare the pâté I thought I could just wing it. How hard can it be?

So I came home to fried chicken liver ready for my experiment.

First mistake: I requested that the liver be fried first before tenderizing. Of course, it was too tough to mash.

Second mistake: I placed the liver in our Black and Decker blender with about a cup of fresh milk and around 63 gms (roughly 1/4 of a 250 gm bar of butter), with salt and pepper to taste.

This was a mistake because the liver was just fried, not tenderized, which made it tough. My blender whirred with much effort at this dry mixture. My blender was also on it’s last legs, I might add, and conked out at just that perfect time after 10 faithful years.

Third mistake: I was exhausted and stressed out and it is never really a good time for me to experiment on recipes in that condition. It took me longer to think of how to remedy the situation – the tough liver – in just a short amount of time. I was anxious to put my tired feet up.

Solution: I boiled the liver mixture (with the milk, butter, salt & pepper) in a pot with more milk, about a cup of milk, at very low heat, making sure to stir from time to time to prevent the mixture from burning.

As the liver softened and the liquid reduced to a mere buttery oil, I turned off the heat and began to mash the liver. Now that was the gruelling part, at least to my arms.

There is an upside to frying the liver before softening. The flavour of the liver is sealed before it is tenderized.

We found that the liver pâté tasted better with cream cheese on toasted bread. Any brand of cream cheese would be good, not necessarily endorsing the brand featured in the photo.

I believe mayo or mustard would work well as a condiment too since either one will lend a tanginess to the rich liver taste.

Overall I believe that my experiment was a success.

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The Gospel for Mental Illness

Today is my 49th birthday.

Yesterday was a terrible day, from the morning discouragements leading up to midnight’s breakdown.

Mental illness sucks the life out of me even though I am surrounded by people who love me. It makes me feel ungrateful, sometimes, and I beat myself up for feeling this way. But mental illness is like that – it eats you up. Sometimes I am neither here nor there. The unseen boundaries within my brain can cause me to be highly functional and productive one day, and utterly helpless and hopeless the next.

A very good friend and pastor posted this on his wall this morning and it was the first post I read. Maybe this is God’s special gift to me today.

“If your gospel isn’t good news for people who suffer from mental illness, it isn’t the Gospel of Jesus.

One of the most gracious, generous and selfless people I have ever known was tormented by an illness that limited mental function. And yet, God’s love was more evident in her than most able-minded people I know.”

The replies and affirmations to his post also gave me strength somehow. There is strength in numbers, truly.

May all of us who suffer from mental illness find strength within ourselves, as God gives us His strength to pull us through. It is a lifetime of extreme highs and lows. It is an illness that most will never even come to terms with. It is a black dog that is always close by.

I pray for all of us. There may not be a total cure for mental illness but there is still hope, whenever we are “well enough” to lift up our heads to see the light. There IS a light that penetrates all this darkness.

I long for that day when I will be freed from the agony of this illness, here or in the next life. When my brain will finally stop spinning from endless screams of anxiety. When I will experience some measure of peace.

Philippians 4:6-7 is my most-read Biblical passage. I firmly believe that this was written for all of us who suffer from anxiety.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What Philippians 4:6-7 Can Teach Us About Managing Anxiety

 

Existence Is A Wonderful Thing

Flower PaintingI came across an article in the newspaper a few days ago as I carefully sipped my steaming mug of brewed coffee in a quiet spot overlooking the freshly rained-on pine trees. I needed very much to be reminded of the heart of the article – “existence is a wonderful thing”.

I wish I took note of the name of the author. She expressed in writing what I felt in my heart but could not make myself articulate out loud. Let me quote a paragraph she wrote:

“Existence is a wonderful thing, To exist, to be there, But more often than not, you get so caught up in the idea of getting to a specific destination that you entirely forget where you are right now. That, my dear, is where you start.”

Anxiety disorder causes one to worry so much about the future that one fails to simply breathe and focus on the NOW.

It is very difficult for my mind not to race. One thought (usually plans or goals) leads to another, and then another, until I get too anxious because the thoughts, more often than not, turn into fears. Fear that I will not be able to do what I had planned in my mind. Fear that the obstacles I imagined will be too great for me to hurdle without hurting myself in the process.

All my fears are self-imposed. They have not happened yet. They are not even reality. Yet I feel anxious about them almost everyday, and these anxieties stop me from existing — from living day-to-day. From even falling asleep or breathing normally.

It is an everyday struggle – to not get caught up in the idea of getting to a specific destination that I entirely forget where I am right now.

I have recently gone back to painting. It was a huge step in my recovery process because I was somehow able to overcome my fear and anxiety about just starting. And deliberately selecting the smallest paintbrush, I very slowly applied paint to canvas. The whole process was meant for me to slow down, to live in the now and stop the constant worrying about the future. It certainly helped.

To exist in the now is truly a wonderful thing.

The attached photo is my recently finished oil painting of my flower photograph. Yes, I do photography as well.

The Right Tools for The Right Job

ToolsThat’s right — the “right” (as opposed to the “left”) tools meant for certain jobs DO make that job easier.

Just a couple of weeks ago as I was de-cluttering and cleaning the house, this thought crossed my mind a few times.

While it is absolutely awful of me not to have changed my scouring pad (for pots and pans) for 2 months, I dilly-dallied on purchasing a new one. Why? I was still able to scrub the black soot off of the pot bottoms with the thinning scouring pad, though it took more elbow grease than necessary.

I became so used to exerting maximum effort that I began to believe that I was using the right tool for the job.

So I finally bought the heavy-duty and thick scouring pad just last week and voila! Just a little pressure from my fingers and the soot on the pans held no resistance. OMG! Why did I delay replacing my old thin scouring pad? All I needed was the right tool for the job.

Some of the other “realizations”:

Floor cleaner to mop the floors — an all-purpose cleaner simply doesn’t do as good a job as a cleaner formulated especially for cleaning the floors. Again, for the sake of not having too many products on hand, I used an all-purpose cleaner for the floors for several weeks. Not the same, especially when you have dogs that drool and leave traces of muddy paw prints in their wake.  It also doesn’t do a great job on glass. The glass cleaner was so much better!

A hack saw to “cut” thick branches – our shrub cutter (like humongous scissors) gave my elbow an unpleasant shock. It was just not built for thick sturdy branches full of hefty thorns. I finally decided, after many months of watching a pomelo tree in the back yard grow at the rate of 1 inch per hour (it seemed that way), to buy a proper saw. The hubby sawed away in just a few minutes. Whew! Now our cable TV satellite is no longer obstructed.

Honestly, not all the DIY posts we see on Facebook or Youtube actually work. I’ve tried many. While I try to avoid using too many chemical- based products, some DIY “earth-friendy” products are just not made for certain jobs.

The right medication and treatment for certain medical conditions – definitely no DIY or self-diagnosing here. A 10-session back therapy for lumbar instability (based on an x-ray) and severe back pain was the right tool for the job. All the mentholated patches, hot pads and exercises did not alleviate the pain because it was NOT muscle pain. I just self-diagnosed it as such.

So I think I will just stick with the right tools. They DO make life a little bit easier.

Some people are worth letting go of…

Letting Go Quote

I came across this quote and realized how much this applies to me.

I care about people — my family, relatives, friends, co-workers — especially when much time is spent together, whether at work or at leisurely activities — and especially when life is shared. Sometimes I think I care too much.

Being a very imperfect person, it is not too difficult for me to forgive others their flaws. On the other hand, breach of trust is an issue that is very challenging for me to forgive.

So when relationships have to end (this is excluding my husband and immediate family) — when the time comes where I need to let go of people, no matter the closeness developed — I am deeply hurt. It takes a while for me to recover, often times spiraling down into depression — until I finally realize that I don’t need to keep this person who has deeply offended me in my life.

I am sure they hardly spare a thought for me — so it’s best that I also stop thinking of them and move on. However, our memories don’t simply forget. It is inevitable for us to remember the people, the circumstances, and the feelings associated with them. The point is to let go every time — EVERY TIME.

Like anything that involves our growth and development as a person, it is a process. And I want to celebrate each success — each time I am able to let go of a person I don’t need in my life — every person who just pulls me down. They are not worth it. They are not worth the pain I suffered — so it won’t happen again.

Letting go of people will also open up more space in my heart to let other people in. Love doesn’t stop. Caring doesn’t stop. I just need to learn to discern better.

 

Trauma in Paradise

Lonely Beach

Paradise is a subjective word.

I learned this only recently – very recently.

Paradise for me is no longer just a place. It is being with the people I love – wherever we are.

Though living by the beach for a little less than two weeks would be like living in paradise, or so I thought, it was hell-on-earth for me. I did not know it would be. I would not have ventured out when I did otherwise.

I was lonely. My husband couldn’t be with me for many days as work required him to be in the city. I couldn’t do it. I could not last being with people who claimed to treat me as “family” but made me feel isolated. I could not last being away from my husband anymore.

I basically courted depression and anxiety – the very same conditions I thought would somehow be “eased” once I am surrounded by water and working in what seemed to be “ideal” work conditions. At 48 years old, I still don’t know myself that well.

It’s not the place. It never was. I was too anxious about the future and was blinded by the promise of a better career – and an attractive salary – that I did not stop longer to really think and consider. What do people always say? If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.

And I finally saw through it. All this time, I had been listening — hardly talking — and I finally discerned. It helps to just listen. Usually, the more people talk, the more mistakes they make by revealing more of their real motives.

The promises made were as loose as as the fine grains of sand falling between my fingers. True characters were revealed, shattering whatever “good impressions” I may have had. I was lonely. I felt very out of place.

I was very lonely. And I left. I picked up whatever I could carry and headed out to the bus station. I had to leave – for good.

And so now I am home again – with my husband and our 3 dogs. I am still recovering from the trauma.

I will get better. We will get better.

A Rainbow Spells “H-O-P-E”

Rainbow_BagasbasI woke up early this morning to witness a perfectly arched and unbroken rainbow. It was literally “clear as day”.

It rained for several days here by the beach – on and off — like a leaky tap.

So the start of the day was, to say the least, hopeful.

Inundated by depressing and stressful thoughts, and the harsh new realities I face, I could hardly appreciate the Pacific Ocean as I walked past it (I hear its roar every second) for a couple of days. It’s such a waste, really, when I SO looked forward to seeing it everyday.

I looked up for several seconds to stand in awe of that rainbow — to thank God for another day, and a new hope. The rainbow didn’t stay visible for long, but I managed to take a decent photo of it.

For me, that rainbow spelled “HOPE”. Even if that hope is short-lived, it is still hope.

It is hope that will sustain me in the coming days, as I wait for my husband to return.

It is hope that things will get better where I am now.

It is hope that a clear answer will come to our heartfelt prayers.

It is hope that we can let go when necessary — without looking back in regret.

I pray fervently for HOPE. Please, give us hope.

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